I’m Going Out. I May Be Some Time.

7 07 2011

Folks, I’m off to cover Oxegen tomorrow so I will get back to everyone on Monday. It’s my ninth time down at the festival and I’ve a feeling this year could be as good as ’04 (when I saw the Cure and PJ Harvey).Either way, I’m keeping my fingers crossed I don’t get quite as drenched as I was in ’07 (see pic below).Buh bye!





Big Picks Oxegen Special

28 06 2011

Each month in the Big List I write a column dedicated to new and up and coming bands and as it’s festival season once again, I figured I’d reprint the Oxegen special that ran a few months ago.

Big Picks-Oxegen Special

Doing exactly what it says on the tin (or headline in this case) our Big Picks column will present to you three acts that are on the cusp of something special and give you the lowdown on where you can find out more. This month, we take a look at some of the bright young things performing at this year’s Oxegen (www.oxegen.ie).

 

The Naked And Famous

Who are they? Kiwi five-piece the Naked and Famous were included in the BBC’s Sound Of 2011 list and their debut album ‘Passive Me, Aggressive You’ is an electro-pop gem.

What do they sound like? The band call to mind MGMT before they crawled up their own arses and their break-through single ‘Punching In A Dream’ could provide one of Oxegen’s “festival moments.”

Where can I find out more? www.thenakedandfamous.com

 

Jenny and Johnny

Who are they? Erstwhile Rilo Kiley front-lady Jenny Lewis has teamed up with her main squeeze (and acoustic rock troubadour in his own right) Johnathan Rice for some alt-pop shenanigans and their debut ‘I’m Having Fun Now’ is a great soundtrack for the summer.

Who do they sound like? A heady call and response heavy slice of outsider pop, Jenny and Johnny really assert themselves as one of indie-rock’s power couples with their swooning debut.  

Where can I find out more? www.jennyandjohnnymusic.com

 

Mona

Who are they? Another of the BBC’s so-called Sound Of 2011, Nashville-based Mona peddle a fine line of swaggering rock that’s sure to get many pulses racing this festival season.

What do they sound like? Their self-titled debut is due out in a month’s time, but we’ve had a few exclusive spins and it has hit written all over it (not literally of course, as that would be daft…).

Where can I find out more? www.monatheband.com





i Music June 12

13 06 2011

Every so often I look after music spread in the Sunday Life for my good friend John McGurk and it’s always good fun to write. Here’s a reprint on my pages from yesterday.

i Music with Edwin McFee

Villagers

This week, hot on the heels of his recent win at the Ivor Norvello Awards, i Music caught up with Villagers mainman Conor J. O’Brien in Belfast ahead of his performance at Custom House Square on June 25 as part of the always entertaining Open House Festival. A shy and soft-spoken character, the unassuming singer/songwriter is an insanely hot property in the music world at the moment thanks to his swoon-some debut album ‘Becoming A Jackal’ and he told us he can’t wait to once again perform in front of his ever-growing legion of Ulster fans.

“I’m thrilled to be playing at the Open House Festival in a few weeks time with Fleet Foxes and the Low Anthem,” he smiled between bites of his sandwich. “I played the festival last year and it was hands down easily one of my favourite shows I’ve ever done-so I can’t wait to do it again. Hopefully, it’ll be just as good.”

With a sterling line-up and (hopefully) some good weather on the cards, Villagers’ latest gig has all the hallmarks of being an absolute triumph and, after scooping the gong for ‘Best Song Musically And Lyrically’ for the single ‘Becoming A Jackal,’ expect Conor and Co. to steal the show.

“I still can’t believe I won the Ivor Norvello,” offered the critically acclaimed songwriter. “Luckily we were on tour in the UK at the time and we got to go and pick up the award in person, so that was fun. I got to do a somewhat awkward speech too and then we were back in the tour bus and that was that, but it’s always nice to know that people out there appreciate what you do.”

With tentative plans already being made for their second album, expect many more people to “appreciate what they do” over the months ahead. Catch them while you can.

Fleet Foxes, Villagers and the Low Anthem perform at Custom House Square in Belfast on June 25 as part of the Open House Festival. Tickets for the event cost £38.50 and are available via www.openhousefestival.com. Gates open at 7.30pm.

CATCH THE LATEST GIGS

Tonight According to our spies located in pharmacies all across the country, sales of hair spray has shot up by nearly 100 per cent this past week and that can mean only one thing-80s poodle rockers Journey and Foreigner are back in town. Performing at the Odyssey Arena in Belfast tonight, both bands are promising to play the hits and it should be a fun evening of nostalgia is you’re into that kind of thing. Tickets range from £44-£46 and are available from Ticketmaster and doors open at 6.30pm.

Monday There’s not much happening across the Province on the live music front on Monday, so our advice is to check out the Katy Daly’s Alternative Pub Quiz in Belfast if you’re still looking for tune-based shenanigans. It’s a pound to enter and starts around 9pm.

Tuesday One of the front-runners of the thrash-punk scene back in the land before time (ok, it was during the 80s) D.R.I. blazed a trail that many are still following to this day and on Tuesday night you can catch the reformed rockers give the young ‘uns a much needed history lesson when they play the Spring and Airbrake, Belfast. Tickets are £15 and available from Ticketmaster and doors open at 7.30pm.

Wednesday Nu-grunge types Dinosaur Pile-Up play the Speakeasy in Belfast this Wednesday night and while they can’t promise any real live T-Rex’s, they can guarantee colossal riffs aplenty. Doors open at 6pm and tickets (which are available from Ticketmaster) cost £8.

Thursday Ocean Colour Scene and Paul Weller guitarist Steve Cradock rekindles his love affair with Belfast for another show at the Spring and Airbrake this Thursday and the gig is a must if you’re of a Mod persuasion. Tickets are £14 and can be obtained from all Ticketmaster outlets and doors are at 8.30pm.

Friday Three hotly tipped local up and comers by the names of Event Horses, B.O.Y. and Tied To Machines take a trip to South Down this weekend to play a gig in the Hideout in Warrenpoint and it should be a great show by all accounts. Admission is £5 and everything kicks off at 9.30pm.

Saturday Those much loved peddlers of eccentric indie sounds Gomez return to Belfast on Saturday for a show at the Spring and Airbrake, Belfast. Support comes from Little Comets, doors open at 8.30pm and tickets (which are available from Ticketmaster) cost £17.

SOUND BITES

This week Oxegen-bound singer (and arguably the most exciting British pop artist of her generation) Jessie J has hit out at some of the more (ahem) creative people in the press for making up stories about her that just aren’t true. Taking her crusade to Twitter, the ‘Price-Tag’ singer tweeted:

 “I have had a tough week according to the press. I’ve been in a plane crash, I’m having a baby and now I’m in hospital after an accident in rehearsals. Can I smell Bulls***? Can I smell rumours? Can I smell lies? Can I smell get a job and stop making stuff up?”

Y’know, if we were that way inclined we’d probably say something like “You go girl,” at this point, but we’re not, so instead we’ll tell you that the starlet (alongside the likes of Beyonce, the Black Eyed Peas, Ke$ha, Coldplay and more) plays the Oxegen Festival in Punchestown on July 8-10 and more information on the bash is available via www.oxegen.ie. We’ll see you there.

Next up, the lovely people involved with the Belsonic festival at Custom House Square in Belfast have unveiled the names of their final two headliners for the summer and they are (*insert drum roll here*) urban superstar Tinie Tempah (who performs on August 22) and house DJ Tiesto (on August 26). Both acts join the already confirmed Beady Eye, Thirty Seconds To Mars, Dizzee Rascal, Primal Scream, Elbow, Plan B and the Specials (as well as full supporting bills) and full ticket details for each day are available via www.belsonic.com.





Hot Summer, What A Bummer Part 2

12 10 2009

The second festival I covered this year was about a month after Download and it was the much talked about Oxegen. This year’s bill was the best ever-specky indie kids could get their kicks from the likes of Blur and Yeah Yeah Yeahs, goths had Nick Cave and Nine Inch Nails, pop kids had Katy Perry and Lady GaGa, rockers had Therapy? and Eagles of Death Metal and dance heads had their own tent. We camped out as usual this year BECAUSE I AM HARDCORE (not in the “I’m hardcore/I’m a Straight Edge wanker” way-in a comedy way of course) and the weather was probably the worst I’ve ever experienced. Still, the music was great and thanks to the Hot Press people being so understanding, I didn’t have to review Kings of Leon so I could watch Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds instead. Result!

Day one consisted of travelling down, getting drenched, interviewing Duke Special on camera then meeting Brody Dalle, catching up with the Therapy? boys, drinking some beer and spotting Udo from Accept (http://www.therapyquestionmark.co.uk/biography/diary/read.php?diaryid=272). What he was doing there I’ll never know, but he seemed to get my phone number outta somewhere. Hmmmm…

Day two was a total washout. After Yeah Yeah Yeahs I thought I was a goner (probably should’ve followed Carrie’s lead by getting hammered on wine) but it cleared up nicely for old Nick who put on the show of his life. Day three saw us leave after Katy Perry (who was amazing) but not before torrrential rain soaked us so badly my phone drowned in my pocket. Still, the GaGa and Katy more than made up for it.

Anyway, I covered day two for Hot Press, and here’s the reprint that I lovingly typed up while caked in mud.

Oxegen Day Two (July 11)

Kicking things off bright and early, New Jersey blue collar punks the Gaslight Anthem arrive onstage 20minutes late and grinning like seven year olds who just won a year’s supply of sweets. Currently the subject of many a bro-mance (ahem) singer Brian Fallon is a charming devil and his band play cuts culled from their second record The ’59 Sound. It’s safe to say that the boys are on a total Tom Petty/Bruce Springsteen trip (in fact they even cover ‘American Girl’ as a homage) but their honesty and warmth make songs like ‘Great Expectations,’ ‘Old White Lincoln’ and the title track sound enormous.

The same can be said for Aussie outfit Howling Bells too, who play our very own Hot Press Tent. They might have been beset by a bucket-load of mishaps (their guitarist’s luggage was sent to Istanbul, they missed their ferry, they had to drive for 30 hours straight and according to singer Juanita Stein they stayed in a whore-house in Amsterdam) but they’re clearly loving being onstage and their set is a dreamy, ethereal clutch of tunes that sound like Florence and the Machine only, you know, good.

 Sadly we couldn’t actually fit into the Green Spheres tent for the Saturdays (boo) but we did manage to catch them play ‘Work’ and let’s face it, considering it’s the only song they have we didn’t miss too much. Eagles of Death Metal are another of today’s disappointments. Much like their mates in Spinnerette they spend far too much effort trying to be cool when they should let their music do the talking. Jesse ‘Boots Electric’ Hughes may have the tidiest ‘tache of the weekend, but the witty onstage patter just isn’t enough anymore.

Passion Pit in the Hot Press Tent on the other-hand are the exact opposite. They let their futurist funky white boy rhythms say it all and have the whole crowd unintentionally dancing like Bruno. Yeah Yeah Yeahs over on the main stage give us a powerhouse performance despite the torrential rain and a guitar amp which seems hellbent on electrocuting Nick Zinner. Karen O’s lime green leggings might make her look a little bit like a demented mutant frog, but she’s the perfect frontwoman this evening. Their set is a mix of old and new material and ‘Rockers To Swallow,’ ‘Cheated Hearts’ and ‘Date With The Night’ are definite standouts in a Herculean performance.

We spend the next few hours not knowing who to check out catching Pete Doherty, the Mars Volta, Doves and Bloc Party but coming away from the performances feeling a little unsatisfied. We’re mostly ticked off by the former Libertines man, largely because he’s still singing songs like ‘Fuck Forever’ as if they were anthems of a generation even though his most hardcore acolytes are finally starting to realize he’s a dried up old pantomime dame.

But, with the sound of the Pet Shop Boys plastic performance still ringing in our ears (‘It’s A Sin’ was great) we make our way over to the O2 Stage to catch Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds’ Oxegen debut. Playing a festival pleasing set, old Nick has the crowd in the palms of his hands wasting no time bashing out ‘Deanna,’ ‘Henry Lee’ and ‘Dig, Lazarus Dig.’ The ominous night sky and mud covered ground only seem to add to the performance with the singer virtually begging for some thunder and lightning during the stomping rain-dance that is ‘Tupelo.’ As per usual, Nick plays his customary role of the possessed preacher man with aplomb stabbing into the night air with his fingers and flailing his arms around like a madman. Highlight has to be the gorgeous ‘Ship Song’ which pleases the lovers and the loveless in equal measure but ‘The Weeping Song’ and a tamer version of ‘The Mercy Seat’ are runners up. The Bad Seeds bring their show stealing set to a close with ‘Stagger Lee’ which is as brooding and menacing as this writer had hoped. Sadly we only get one song for the encore as Nick calls out Shane McGowan, who in fairness looks like he’s had one too many light ales. Even the singer seems bemused by the Pogues’ frontman’s state and embraces him, laughs good naturedly and closes the performance with a bow. What a legend.

Edwin McFee





The Rumble Strips

16 07 2009

Well I’m back from Oxegen and despite getting utterly drenched and my phone drowning from all the rain, it was great fun. Highlights were Lady Gaga, Nick Cave, Therapy?, Katy Perry and the Gaslight Anthem and the reviews are in this week’s Hot Press.

Anywho, yesterday I dug out my copy of the new Rumble Strips album so I though I’d reprint the review up here to get back into the swing of things.

The Rumble Strips

Welcome To The Walk Alone (Island)

Four out of five

Welcome To The Walk Alone is the Rumble Strips second stab at fame and the cinematic slab of wax is almost certainly a step in the right direction. Produced by Mark Ronson (yes, he actually produces music when he’s not falling out of clubs with Daisy Lowe) songs such as ‘London’ and ‘Daniel’ have his finger-prints all over them. In many ways, Welcome To The Walk Alone is a bit like an old Brit flick from the 60s. The melodies are swooping, the lyrics drip with toothless melodrama and the staccato rhythms sound like they are right out of a Dusty Springfield single.

To say that the Rumble Strips owe a debt to Dexy’s Midnight Runners is like saying Marilyn Manson is partial to a little bit of make up every now and again. Literally every song from ‘Sweet Heart Hooligan’ to ‘Dem Girls’ oozes Kevin Rowland-isms, but since the former frontman prefers to sully his good name by cross-dressing and acting like a mentalist these days, we’re happy to have Rumble Strips’ Charlie Walker take his place. Welcome To The Walk Alone succeeds when it’s at its most pure. ‘Running On Empty’ is almost like a Shadows record (only, y’know, good) and the retro riffage is tastefully done too. All in all, it seems like the second time is the charm for the Rumble Strips.

 Key Track: ‘Running On Empty’

Edwin McFee